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Scoping For NPS-Owned Structures on Shores of Lake McDonald

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Date: July 30, 2010
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406 888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof, 406 888-7895

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park officials are seeking preliminary scoping comments as the National Park Service (NPS) begins preparation of a plan and environmental assessment (EA) to explore alternatives for the management of cabins and other structures owned by the NPS around the shores of Lake McDonald on the park’s west side. The plan would determine which of these structures should be preserved, how the preserved structures would be used and which structures would be removed. The plan would also provide guidance on cabins and structures that could be acquired by the NPS in the future.

During the first half of the twentieth century, much of the land on the shore of Lake McDonald was developed as recreational camps and homesteads. Visitors from near and far were drawn to the pristine wilderness lake ringed by the magnificent snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Some of these visitors bought property and built cabins on Lake McDonald, the park’s largest lake. Many of these cabins have come into park ownership. Each of these historic cabins is a story from the park’s past, of the pioneer spirit that lived within Glacier National Park. As a group the cabins document the recreational patterns of the American public.

Glacier National Park now owns 21 cabins on Lake McDonald; 19 of these cabins are considered historic under the National Historic Preservation Act. Eight of these historic structures are currently occupied by the previous owners under a life estate agreement. The park uses one cabin for the Artist-in-Residence program and two cabins are used as housing by Glacier Park, Inc., a park concessioner. There are a number of other cabins on Lake McDonald that are privately owned that are not part of the EA.

Concerns/Issues:

Ø Preservation of historic structures and cultural landscapes eligible for National Register of Historic Places
Ø Limited NPS funds for structure preservation, rehabilitation and maintenance
Ø View-sheds of both natural and cultural landscapes
Ø Wildlife habitat on Lake McDonald
Ø Water quality of Lake McDonald
Ø Public safety around the buildings

Alternatives Identified To-Date:

Ø Limited maintenance of structure to preserve the visual historic landscape
Ø NPS or concession rehabilitation and use of structure
Ø Long-term public lease of structure, rehabilitation and maintenance by lessees
Ø Remove structure and restore site to natural condition
Ø No Action

An open house session will be held to gather input and comments Wednesday, August 25 at the West Glacier Community Building from 5 to 7 p.m.  Written comments and concerns on the proposed management of NPS cabins at Lake McDonald should be submitted online by Friday, August 31, 2010, at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/glac or mailed to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald Cabins, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT 59936. There will be also another opportunity for review and comment when the environmental assessment is completed.

- NPS -

Did You Know?

Trees and mountains

In 1974, 93% of Glacier National Park was recommended as Wilderness. To this day, over 93% of Glacier’s backcountry is managed as Wilderness.